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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  August 7, 2014 1:30pm-2:01pm EDT

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we want to thank you for watching al jazerra america, i am del walters in new york. "talk to al jazerra" is next. reminder you can check us out 24 hours a day at aljazerra.com. . >> it has become too expensive. the price tag is so scary to look at. >> cornell university's president says higher education is worths the cost though schools need to be run more efficiently. david skorton weighs in as well on skills training versus traditional education. >> the vast majority of people are making a living doing fine in the country without a very advanced degree. >> the veteran administrator has spoken out nationally on campus suicide prevention. >> one year we had what we call a cluster, a suicide contagion. >> he is not just an ivory league president. musician.
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>> i had a chance to sit with billly joel. >> if that's not enough, in 2015, david skorton is set to take over the smithsonian institution, the world's largest museum and research center. not to worry if you are a fan of the black and white bear. >> we are the pandacam. >> i spoke to him at our studios in new york. >> for all of the ills in society and the economy, education, when done well in america is done really, really well. at universities like yours, you are seeing applicants each year more and more from other places who want to come to america because america does higher education the best. what's your take on it? >> first of all, i would like to think about education as a spectrum from early childhood education to k through 12 system to secondary education and professional and graduate school. now, there is over 4,000 colleges in the universe and one of the things that's very important to
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think about -- in the united states. not everybody is suited to the same kind of anything. >> we want to think about the 4-year colleges who don't emphasize research and those line cornell who do. the importance of that type is it leads to innovation. innovation is what drives our economy. and higher education helps innovation in two ways. one, it he had indicates and trains people to think and it's a cliche, ali to think outside the box. the individual gets a big benefit. unemployment rate is lower. salaries are higher, tut opportunities are broader. but society gets an advantage as well because of innovation and citizenry. >> is there a point at which this is it worth it equation starts to change? can education be too expensive? >> i am very worried about that. i am extremely worried about that. a couple of recent studies have come out. i know you are aware of them,
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that have shown this very, very substantial change in life-long, not only employability but the amount of money made. so, it's definitely worth going through the trip. >> doesn't mean that the trip has not become too expensive. it has become too expensive. now, for schools that have substantial resources like cornell and many other schools that have endowments, it's possible for us to help a lot of the families in america because of very substantial financial aid. >> that's the so-called hi high-price, high-aid model, high-tuition model. for those families, we can actually help them to get through, but the price tag is so scary to look at that a lot of people don't even think they want to take a chance on doing it. >> right? >> at the other end of the spectrum are people who make enough money, people like me who can afford to pay cash for their students' education, and i think it's definitely worth it. in between those two parts of the socioeconomic spectrum, there are a lot of people being
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scats. you would know more and better how to define that, the upper middle class but a certain income range where you make too >> right. >> but you don't make enough to pay cash for an education that costs $60,000 a year with room and board and other things. >> and this choice, this choice to go to the university or the college that is best suited to you is possibly one of the most important choices in your life. and it is -- we are getting to a point where financing it, it's people. >> yes. >> it's becoming so central to the decision that people may be making, i worry that they may be making a decision that is not good for them in the long-term. there is a growing feeling that higher education doesn't have the return. there is a popular feeling that it's becoming out of reach for the middle class or at least parts of it. >> that popular feeling, itself, is a very important impetus for
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us doing something about it. one is that we have to run the schools in a more efficient way. we have to look for areas where we have overlapping work at the university. we have to look for those areas and reduce redundancies, but that's not going to be the whole answer. every school cannot do everything for everybody maybe one way toward efficient see is for us to think more collaboratively among higher education, perhaps we can share some resources and would eventually be reflected in the price tag. that's one aspects of it. >> one of the things that you guys come under a lot of criticism for, presidents of universities, is money, salaries. there is a sense that it's students. you haven't made our list of one of the more highly paid even amongst the ivory league, you are amongst the lowest paid presidents. what is the value of a university president? >> make no mistake about it. even if you say i am at the lower range of the ivory league,
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i make a lot of money and are and a lot of perks. these salaries even if it was three times my salary don't have a substantial influence on the overall university budget. cornel's budget is year. if the president is making x or two x, it's not going to affect that. it does affect people's morale and it affects people's thinking about what do we value. so, i do think that it's importantly to look at the broad group of staff and faculty who actually make the university do what it does. got to make sure that teachers that affect our kids' lives and our country and our world so substantially are getting reasonable compensation. >> one of these conversations i have had on "talk to al jazeera" is with emla shalmalot who did a lot of studying on high school education and he has come up with a theory that a lot of people hold, that our education system is not actually broken. it's just really bifurcated. there are some people in america
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who are getting a high school education in a and a primary school education that is second to none in the world and some who are getting education. >> it's a trifurcated situation. some are getting nothing whatsoever. so we have to try very hard to think more aggressively about early child hooded education. the higher education, early childhood education is we have to emphasize more an assessment of the outcome of the student learning, student learning outcomes. we have to see whether we are actually coming out with something at the end which just expenditure. >> can universities play a roll in make make, the heights system better? well, they can in multiple ways. those universities that have big teacher training orientation can sure do that and by interacting a lot with their fellow faculty in the k through 12 system and with the leadership of districts, i think we can get that done.
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one of the bigger controversies standards. >> yeah. >> right now, we have the control. it's dodge locally. people have all kinds of choices in both higher education and k through 12, and i for one thing it's reasonable to find a way to do the common core standards or something like the common core standards the right way so that people feel good about it and so that we have some more common standard of measurement. we want to make sure that where our child is born, the neighborhood that he or she grows up in doesn't determine what the outcome of that education is. >> the truth is, it does. >> absolutely. demographically and geographically both. >> how do you manage that at a university like that? that. i wish i had better answers. we do remedial education at all universities of all types. we have programs before the freshman matriculates to give them a little bit of chance to get used to the system. back in the day, i was the first one in my family to complete a college education. neither one of my parents had
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done any college. so, i wasn't able to turn to them and say, well, you know, what's a mid-term? how do you get ready for this? and students move from different climates, let alone different countries. about 20% of cornell's student body of 22,000 are international students. so, i think we have to think especially about groups like first-generation college students where we want to focus a little more attention and in fact, people like me are always talking about diversity on college campuses which i think is one of the most important things we should stress. the more the diverse the population of students we serve, the more robust has to be the support services to make sure they can get a leg up and get the work done. >> one of the struggles in the last few years that many university presidents have had is suicides on campus. you had to deal with that at cornell. tell me a bit about this. >> if you look at the 15 to 24-year age group, predominantly a group we are talking about, in the general america society, the three causes of death in that
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age group were happily things have changed with childhood cancer and we are a little older ages. well, number 1 is accidents, especially automobile accidents. no. 2 is homicides. and number 3 is suicides. on college campuses. homicides are rare. a lot of that is because of gun control on campuses. maybe it's an unpop layer statement but i believe it to be true. so on college campuses, the number 1 cause of death in that population, college students, 15 to 24, is still accidents and the second suicide. so suicide is not a common occurrence but it's the second common cause of exit in that age group. so the idea that you lose a young life, even a very occasional suicide is just too much. but let's talk a tiny bit about suicide as a general topic at any age group. part of it is an underlying or mental disorder. it could be depression. it could be something else. so recognizing that disorder being present is a huge, huge
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step in preventing suicides, even if we can recognize it, the healthcare reimbursement system has to have what people call mental health parity to allow reimbursement and coverage for mental health issues like other kinds of health be issues. we have had sort of after crazy quilt of a situation there, as you are well aware. >> yeah. we treat mental illness from a reimbursement perspective in many cases as a separate, as an outside, not the same way that if you had a flu. >> that's right. >> or a broken limb, you would go to a doctor? >> that's right. >> get proper treatment and nobody would ask anything more about it? >> that's right. we are moving in the right direction as a country. in my view, we are not there yet. the first thing is you have to recognize a problem. the second is you have to have access, coverage to treat it. even if you recognize it and have access to the medical system and can treat it, people will still slip through and have an impulsive desire to take their life. you have to have what we call control. >> uh-huh.
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bridges. >> yes. >> you had suicides that gorges? >> yes. >> you installed fencing on those bridges initially and got a lot of pushback for that. >> we did but i think it was the right thing to do. most of us thought it was. eventually we had netting. over the years, cornell's rate of suicide is not out of line with other colleges. as i said, even one is a tragedy a real serious tragedy but over time, we didn't have it. but one year we had what we call a cluster, a suicide con tatagion and i thought it was very, very important to do that third step barrier. >> we will take a quick break. when i come back, i am going to continue my conversation with david skorton, the president of cornell university and get his views on how america can be more ♪ >> i'm ali velshi, the news has become this thing where you talk to
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welcome back to talk tosars with david skorton, the president of cornell university k david, you competitiveness. we talked talk so much about the middle class on my shows. the conversation is about a nation that is competitive, that has workers who have the right sets of skills who can earn a work. it's about an education system that can support them and government programs that product them and about the innovation that we just talked about. you said that our universities are sort of one of the greatest places where this innovation that is the backbone of american prosperity begins. are we doing a good job? >> i think there is two basic ingredients for competitiveness i hope we can agree on. one is opportunity to participate in the economy. >> right? >> the other one is new ideas. it is true that education is one of the areas not the only one that brings these together. if you think about opportunity and new ideas, i think it's a context in which you can think
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about the education issue, and not everybody has to have the same skills. if we look at the way the job market and the way we manufacture things and the way that we create new things has been going, i believe that we are rapidly approaching a situation where there will be sort of three general categories of workers in the united states. one is that there will be people working in the service sector of a wide variety of skills. some that are hard to learn. some require college education. some don't. but there will always be people working in the service sector of the economy. there will be people working in the knowledge sector of the economy. and then, a third early already increasingly taken over by automation. in some cases what we now think oug automation. we have to think about that opportunity aspect, not only in terms of opportunity to learn the skills, to be a part of a growing economy, but what do we do with folks who have a set of
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skills that becomes replaced by some automated process. >> we are also excited by technology and robotics but some people who work in that space are honest with me and say this is going to be disruptive to employment. it, by the way, has been since about 1979 in manufacturing. the combination of technology and offshoring has hurt the sector that most created the middle class in america. >> exactly. so this is exactly what i am talking about is what do we do not only to help those folks who are in their primary productive years and need to bring home a paycheck when their job gets replaced or downsized a number of positions because of automation? and so we have to think about that and college has a big role to play there but especially our great community colleges have a role to play there because of skill retraining, because of training for other new opportunities. the other aspect of education is, i think, you are leading me to has to do with the innovation that is created by the educational setting, itself, and that happens in two different ways. one, of course, is the great
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research agendas of research universities and that innovation has separated us from a lot of people in the world but there is a different kind of innovation that's very, very important to think about. >> that's innovation in how we prepare people so i think the educational innovation as well as the innovation to come up with new products and services is also very, very important. i think we are not spending enough time in higher education. >> i look at massive online -- massive open online courses. i am not quite sure how far you can go with that sort of thing. what are the things that can help bridge this prosperity gap so that in this society that's producing more and more every year, people actually feel like they are participants in it? >> this is a really, really great question. i wish i had a really great answer for it. today, as i know you are aware, only about a third of americans have had a college education. only about 2% have a whd and only a few %, i forgot exactly, three or 4% have some sort of a doctoral agree.
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the vast majority of people are making a living and doing fine in the country without a very advanced degree and two-thirds of the people are working without a college degree. so that pro that you are citing is a huge, huge problem. and i think that one of the answers to the problem is to have more availability of actual sitting in a room or experiential learning like in a community college or other kinds of higher education that would help one gain skills that would allow you to be a part of the new wave, whatever it is but the online education is fascinating. it is making those of us in higher education rethink the purpose of the classroom. does the classroom really have to be a place where 20, 50, 100, 1,000 students can hear it or can they hear those pieces of information separately on their own and then, as the term goes, flip the classroom so it's more of an education & discussion kind of period? that will change the system to some extent. but i don't think it's going to
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be disruptive to the system until the following happens: until we have what i call competency based education in which there is some sort after test that one can take that shows that one of has the skil in a certain area to move to the next step when -- i won't say if but where grad schools and employers and high-tech employers can accept someone because of the skills demonstrated whether or not they have a back laureate degree, then you are going to see a real serious disruption. >> not about the degree. it's about your actual skill set or qualifications. >> until we get there and we are a little sddistanced from that now. i think it will be using online education, but i think the real so-called disruptive difference will happen if we can accept the test in certain sdmrints and say you are ready for entry. >> when we come back, i will continue my conversation with david skorton about the smithsonian. why he is headed there. you are watching talk to
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>> "on the edge eighteen" coming september only on al jazeera america welcome back to "talk to "al jazeera america"" i am ali velshi, for the next little while, with david skorton. maybe thinking about kids going to college, what is your advice for a parent for a student who wants to go to college? that was me not too long ago. in an economy that's challenging, think for the longrun and students and parents, i encourage you to dream broadly. we don't know now what we are going to be doing 10, 20s, 15 years for now. some of us have had changes in careers, let alone changes in jobs within a career. i think it's important not to get too narrow too soon. once again, it's easy to say in a down economy.
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i have a terrific job. when you are on the other end of the life cycle, it's daunting right now broad skills you get from a liberal arts education, by which i mean you study the humanities, arts, social sciences and not just the vocationally oeshtsd courses which, of course, are very important, think about the long run and lou to dream. it's very, very important. what do university presidents do presidents? >> what a great question. it depends. now, i wanted to be a musician when i was younger is there you were a jazz musician? were you not? >> i wanted to be. you can imagine what a fabulous jazz musician i was if i am here with you today. but i had the chance to sit in for one number with winton marsalis and jazz at lincoln center and one number with billy joel. these guys have lost my cell phone number. >> you are waiting?
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i am done at cornell. >> if you take that off of the table, i didn't really know what i was going to do after the presidency at cornell. >> you are a cardiologist. >> took care of, still do a little tiney bit teenagers and young adults with congenital heart disease. >> and tae kwon do? >> i was bet hitting things that don't hit back. >> you eliminated jazz and t tae kwon do and you decided to go into the smithsonian. the head of the smithsonian is secretary? >> right. >> tell me about this. how did this come being about? >> the smithsonian, to remind you and those watches, "talk to al jazeera" is very interesting organization and it encompasses 19 musems or galleries, the national zoo, nine research centers, literally, around the world. so, it's a research and education entity. that was one thing that was
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very, very attractive to me. another thing that was very attractive to me is the idea of working at the intersection of sciences on the one hand and the address and humanities and it cu culture on the other because i think those are very important to bring together. i am a doc. i am a scientist and i believe science is very, very important, but we have never and are not going to solve society's thorniest problems by science alone. we are no. we have to understand the cultural context, the human context of problems that come up and solutions that we propose and so it's very, very important that we have this spread and this smithsonian has enormous, enormous breadth. the third thing is that my dad was an immigrant from what is now belarus. and he was a patriot, a naturalized citizen and when i was young, he would tell me things like i don't want to ever hear that you missed a chance to vote. and if you ever have a chance to
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do something for the united states, however small, however modest, i want you to do it because the country gave opportunities to people like me. >> that's my dad talking. and so as corny as it may sound, the chants to do something for the united states and to work in an americana kind of setting, very, very attractive to me. >> your dad had a shoe shop? l.a. is that correct? >> he was not able to go very far in education. >> right. >> very smart man. he did a lot of different things in his life. he had a used car lot in milwaukee where he was born. and before that, he recapped tires. a lot of different things. what he did best was sales. we moved to los angeles we opened a discount shoe store. he was an effective salesman my mom used to say how do you think he caught to me. >> i heard he said two rules, don't force anything on anybody and nobody leaves without buying a pair of shoes? >> i talk to you too much
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stories. he used to say that. he said don't listen to what they want. and if you don't have it dorks don't push it but the last is nobody leaves here and i said how can you reconcile those? he said you are a big shot. you you are going to school. you figure it out. >> how will that help you in your job at the smithsonian do? >> the secretary is the ceo. i have to give a big disclaimer here i am a year out from this job. i don't know enough of the details to speak authoritatively about it but the current secretary, wave kluff, someone i admire in a prefers career was the president georgia tech university is doing a fantastic job, a fantastic job in making the smithsonians treasures available broadly around the world among many other things. he has launched a project to digit eyes a lot of the 137 million things that the
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smithsonian preserves. i am going to get ready to lead by watching him at work. >> this happens in 2015. i know topics have come up about free admission to the smithsonian. i know you have said you are not far enough into this to discuss business models but you are going to leave the pandacam. >> we are going to leave the pandacam because i spend a lot of time on the pandacam, if you would let me have my refc on, which you won't, i will show you what bob bob is doing right now. >> very good. david, what a pleasure to talk to you. we wish you all the best in your new adventures. >> thanks a lot, ali. >> deepak chopra, from improving your health >> i had an intuition, that human beings could heal themselves. >> to solving conflict... >> the best way to get rid of your enemy, is is to increase their happiness >> and living a more mindful life... >> the number one cause of hostility in the world is lack of respect >> every saturday join us for exclusive,
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revealing, and surprising talks with the most interesting people of our time. >> talk to al jazeera only on al jazeera america >> this is al jazeera. >> welcome to this special news hour with extended coverage on gaza under fire. one month on. no sign of a long term solution between israelis and palestinians with just hours left on a temporary ceasefire. >> no hamas is not controlling gaza. hamas is not controlling anything. >> standing firm hamas demands the end of an israeli occupation of the gaza strep. >> there is no occupation of gaza. >> many in israel deny there's a siege and argue they have to ec
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